By Karin Glendenning
Community News Writer
“I come from a long line of good cooks,” said Diane Mizell, who, in addition to being exposed to good cooking at home, was a home economics major in college. She admitted that today she likes to keep it simple in her kitchen, but still enjoys trying new recipes.
She and her husband, Terry, recently had the kitchen remodeled in their two-story home in the Palisades area. They completely gutted the room, and had new cabinets and high-end appliances installed. Honed granite counters and subway tiles set the tone for the sleek renovation that included a new farmhouse sink and a six-burner Dacor range with two ovens, one of them a convection type. For the refrigerator Mrs. Mizell chose a stainless front three-door model with the freezer at the bottom. The cabinets are white with brushed steel pulls and slide out effortlessly when opened. There’s even an appliance garage for small items like the mixer, coffee pot and processor.
Mrs. Mizell said her family —; including her son, Ben, and daughter, Elizabeth, who both live in Atlanta, her sister and brother, their children and her mother —; gets together each summer at the beach. “We try to have lots of seafood when we’re down there,” she said. “We eat out very little and eat together in the dining room almost every night. She often prepares her Seafood Gumbo during this trip.
Other family traditions include having beef tenderloin on Christmas Eve and preparing and serving her grandmother’s turkey dressing for Christmas dinner.
Mrs. Mizell said her favorite things to cook are soups, stews and gumbos. She and her husband also both like to grill. “Terry is easy to cook for because he likes everything,” she said.
The couple travel often and enjoy sampling new cuisines. “I love to try what is a signature dish for the area we’re visiting,” Mrs. Mizell said. “But I really love Southern food. I think we have more variety here than anywhere.”
The Mizells like to entertain but don’t as often as they would like to, Mrs. Mizell said. “We’re pretty casual and usually have 6 or 8 people for a meal. I come up with one new thing, but everything else I serve, I’ve tried before,” she said. “I think people are looking for plain, good food and that’s what I try to serve.”
The recipes she shares with readers today are ones she said her husband and children all request.
(“As they say, ‘you start with a roux’ to make this rich gumbo that is my family’s all-time favorite. Put on some music to entertain you and a ‘come back later’ sign at the front door while you stir the roux. Don’t step away from the pot until finished cooking the roux. Thank goodness for cordless phones, or I would suggest not answering the phone either while cooking this first step,” said Mrs. Mizell, who added that this is her signature dish. She got the recipe from a 1987 Southern Living cookbook and “tweaked it a little.”)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup flour
1 large onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 14.5-ounce cans pureed tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon dried whole thyme
1/2 teaspoon red pepper (adjust to taste)
1 whole bay leaf
4 14.5-ounce cans chicken broth
2 cups fresh cut or frozen cut okra
3 pounds of any combination of shelled shrimp and/or crabmeat
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Hot cooked rice
File gumbo powder
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large skillet and whisk in the flour. Slowly stir over medium heat until it’s the color of a copper penny, about 15 to 20 minutes. Be careful not to burn.
Add the vegetables to the hot roux and stir occasionally for about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, garlic and herbs and cook for 10 minutes. Slowly stir in chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.*
Add seafood and simmer another 15 minutes. Serve over hot cooked rice with file gumbo powder to sprinkle on top. Makes about 4 quarts.
*At this point, you can add the seafood or cool and place in the refrigerator or freezer in gallon freezer bags until ready to serve for a meal. Add seafood when reheating.
MARINATED BAKED CHICKEN BREASTS
(Mrs. Mizell said this can also be made as an appetizer using chicken tenders and reducing the cooking time. “Men love this savory chicken,” she said, adding that her husband and son particularly like this dish.)
2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons celery salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
12 chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups Ritz cracker crumbs
1 1/2 cups saltine cracker crumbs
1 cut butter or margarine, melted, divided
Combine first 8 ingredients in large bowl. Add chicken, coating well. Let stand in refrigerator overnight or at least 8 hours. Remove chicken from sauce and roll in crumbs. Arrange in shallow baking dish and spoon 1/2 cup of butter over, coating each piece. Bake uncovered at 300 for one hour. Spoon remaining butter over chicken and continue baking for 45 minutes.
DIANE’S EGGPLANT PARMIGIANO
(Mrs. Mizell made this recipe up. “This makes a filling and delicious main dish that you can serve with grilled vegetables or a salad and crusty bread. It is even good cold as a leftover, if there are leftovers,” she said.)
1 large eggplant (or two small, peeled)
1/2 cup flour
1 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
12-ounce jar roasted red peppers with mild garlic, drained
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes, undrained
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced (or more, if desired)
8 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (or more, if desired)
Peel eggplant and slice into discs. Combine flour, salt and pepper and dredge eggplant in mixture. Heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a large skillet and saute eggplant until golden brown. Add olive oil as needed to keep pan from drying while sauteing. Remove eggplant to dish. Drain roasted red peppers and garlic and heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil Add tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes. Pour this mixture into a blender or food processor and pulse until broken into coarse liquid.
Oil bottom of an 8- by 11-inch casserole and spoon small amount of tomato sauce into bottom of dish. Begin layering in this order: eggplant, mozzarella, sauce Parmesan. Repeat again and be sure to top with generous amount of Parmesan. Bake uncovered at 325 for 20 to 30 minutes.
(Mrs. Mizell said this recipe is “quick, easy and most of all delicious.”)
Any of the following vegetables:
Zucchini, cut lengthwise in long flat strips
Yellow squash, cut in half lengthwise
Red or yellow peppers
Salt and pepper
In a large flat dish or shallow bowl, drizzle olive oil over washed vegetables and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat. Grill (gas grill at 400 degrees) until tender on vegetable tray made for grill so nothing fall through the grates. Serve with your favorite entree.
PECAN CRUSTED TROUT
(Mrs. Mizell said this is a quick and easy recipe. “Trout is mild and even those who don’t like fish will enjoy this,” she said.)
4 trout fillets
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
In a small saucepan bring orange juice and olive oil to a slow simmer. Add a dash of pepper and continue simmering until liquid is reduced to half original volume. Set aside. Remove skin from fillets and dredge in flour that is lightly salted. Melt butter in skillet. Add pecans and trout and pan fry trout for 3 minutes on each side. Cover and lower heat after turning the first time. Cook until pecans are golden brown and trout is flaky. Move trout and pecans to plates and pour orange juice reduction over each fillet.
(Mrs. Mizell said you may experiment with different breads such as sour dough or a dense Italian bread., but that French bread is too porous. “Try combinations of fillings and even add nuts,” she said.)
1 loaf homemade bread, day old
3 cups raspberries or favorite juicy berries
2 cups sugar or more, to taste
2 cups sour cream
1 cup brown sugar
Into a springform pan that has been generously buttered and sugared, press slices of day old bread that have been generously buttered on the outer side. (I use the end pieces, crust side down, for this bottom layer.) Cover bottom and sides of pan. Mound with raspberries and sugar to desired sweetness and then cover with more buttered bread. Cover top tightly with plastic and use plate as a flat weight over top to press juices into bread. Chill for 6 hours.
Unmold. (You may need to use warm towels to release “cake” from sides of springform pan.) Top with mixture of sour cream and brown sugar. Cut into wedges as you would a baked cake and serve.
GREEN BEAN SALAD
(Mrs. Mizell said this is a very tasty alternative to a lettuce salad and good with formal or casual meals.)
2 cans whole green beans, drained
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 small purple onion, sliced very thin
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dry)
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper
Layer first 3 ingredients in a salad bowl and chill for at least 4 hours. Toast walnuts in microwave on high for 2 minutes. Set aside. Combine all dressing ingredients and let stand. One hour before serving, pour dressing over salad and add walnuts. Toss and serve.
E-mail Karin Glendenning at email@example.com